Bunny Walters

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Bunny Walters
Birth nameBunny Te Kokiri Miha Waahi Walters
Born(1953-05-31)31 May 1953
Katikati, New Zealand
Died14 December 2016(2016-12-14) (aged 63)
Hamilton, New Zealand
Years active1969–1978

Bunny Te Kokiri Miha Waahi Walters (31 May 1953 – 14 December 2016) was a New Zealand singer who had a number of New Zealand hits during the 1970s. He is best known for the hits "Brandy" and "Take the Money and Run".


Of Ngāi Te Rangi descent,[1] Walters was born and raised in Katikati, a town on the North Island of New Zealand.[2]


In 1969, he competed against Tui Fox at Joe Brown’s at the Rotorua Soundshell during the Search for Stars event held there. Fox was singing similar material to Walters. Fox won the final with Walters coming in second.[3] His first single, titled "Just Out of Reach", was released in 1969. He then released "It's Been Too Long" and "Can't Keep You Out of My Heart".[4] During one of the talent quests, held at the Opera House in Palmerston North, he was beaten by singer Richard Turei, whose daughter Metiria Turei would later end up being co-leader of the Green Party in New Zealand.[5]

Walters made his first television appearance on Happen-Inn, a New Zealand television show.[6]

After performing at Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan, he received contracts to return to Japan. He gained considerable exposure. The New Zealand Herald reported that he may have also appeared on the Rolf Harris show in London.[7]

In 1971, he replaced Vaughan Lawrence as the resident singer on Happen-Inn.[8]

In 1972, he recorded "Brandy" (which reached #4 on the pop charts).[4] It was reported in the edition of 4 May of The New Zealand Herald that due to the big success Walters had with "Brandy" that the song was to be produced in sheet music form.[9] That same year he had a hit with Take The Money And Run" (which reached #2).[4]

In 1973 he had a hit with "Home Isn't Home Anymore" (which reached #18).[4] Also that year he had a gold disc entry with the Bernie Allen arranged "Helena",[10] a Tat Meager composition also recorded that year by Leapy Lee.[11][12]


In 1974, Walters had a hit with a song originally recorded by Ben Thomas, written by Gary Sulsh, Stuart Leathwood, and Tony Macaulay.[13] His version of "The Nearest Thing To Heaven", produced by Alan Galbraith reached #10 that year.[14][4]

In June he had toured with the Supremes. Another singer from New Zealand, Erana Clark was announced earlier to be on the same tour with Walters.[15][16] That year he won two awards at the RATA awards. One was for best male vocalist and the other for best recording artist.[17]

Damage to career

In October 1974 he was convicted of possessing a very small amount of marijuana and fined convicted and fined $100 for possession.[18] This had a catastrophic effect on his career. Prior to the conviction, he was always in demand. He was getting work, being hired to perform in pubs, clubs and for certain organisations. Then as a result of falling foul of influential people he was virtually blacklisted from TV and radio. He disappeared from the spotlight almost immediately.[19][20]

Mid 70s onwards[edit]

In 1978, he recorded a promotional record for the New Zealand Labour Party. The single was titled "To Be Free with Labour" and was the B side of a song titled "To Be Free", written by Robinson-Bretnall.[21]

During the 1980s he was also singing jingles and getting a lot of work in that area. According to an article in AudioCulture by Steven Shaw, The New Zealand Herald reported in August 1986 that 80% of the advertising jingles heard in New Zealand, featuring male and female voices were by Walters and singer Annie Crummer.[19][22] Among these projects was a verse from a version of the New Zealand national anthem that was recorded for World Expo 88, which also aired during TVNZ's daily opening transmission during the late 1980s and early 1990s.[23][24]

In June 1991, he was appearing on stage in a production of Porgy and Bess.[25]

In 2013, Walters was the profile in episode 9 of The Untold Stories of New Zealand Music History.[26]

Film and television[edit]


Walters appeared in the 1978 film Skin Deep[27]

The song "Never Say Die" from single the "Never Say Die" / "Gotta Get Outta Here" WEA Records Limited Z10002 was composed and performed by Billy Kristian. It is featured during the closing credits of the 1988 film Never Say Die which starred Temuera Morrison and Lisa Eilbacher. He appeared in an episode of the New Zealand prime-time soap opera, Shortland Street.[28]


Walters became a Christian in or around 1995/1997. In a 1999 interview, he told The Sunday Star-Times that his conversion came about as a result of a pastor inviting him to church. Because he didn't have much else going on, he was looking forward to attending.[29] He was living in Queensland, Australia from around 2004, moving around before settling on one of the Islands in Queensland. While living in Queensland, the main amount of singing he did was in church.[30] In his quest to spread the word, he was in Canada at one stage for a month. While there he preached to an Inuit community.[29]

Illness and death[edit]

Walters died in Waikato Hospital, Hamilton, on 14 December 2016 after a short illness.[1][31][32]

Funeral service[edit]

He had been lying in state at Tokoroa's Papa o te Aroha Marae. The funeral service was at Elim Christian Church, with a private cremation to follow.[33]

Tribute concert[edit]

It was announced in Stuff that a tribute concert for Walters was to be held at the Tokoroa Cosmopolitan Club on 4 February 2017. Artists scheduled to appear were Tom Sharplin, Dennis Marsh, Ray Solomon, Larry Morris, Dennis August and Craven Noble.[34]


Title Release info Year Notes
"Just Out Of Reach" / "Crying Time" Impact IR-1050 1969
"It's Been Too Long" / "Through The Eyes Of Love" Impact IR-1054 1970
"Soft Rain" / "Danny Boy" Impact IR-1071 1971
"Brandy" / "Didn't We" Impact IR-1073 1971
"Can't Keep You Out Of My Heart" / "I Believe" Impact IR-1057 1971
" I Won't Be Sorry To See Suzanne Again" / "Who Could Be Loving You" Impact IR 1077 1972
"Take The Money And Run" / Kiss Her Three Times" Impact IR 1079 1972
"Home Isn't Home Anymore" / "Quando Quando" Impact IR 1080 1973
"Helena" / "We'll Sing in the Sunshine" Impact IR 1082 1973
"The Nearest Thing To Heaven" / "The Songs We Sang Together" Impact IR 1084 1974
"Never Too Young To Rock" / "Boogie Woogie Woman" Impact IR 1087 1976
"Crazy" / "Help Me Out" Impact IR 2000 1978
"Born To Be Free" / "Didn't We" EMI HR 582 1978 [14]
"To Be Free" / "To Be Free With Labour" NZLP PR 868 1978 New Zealand Labour Party promo single
"Never Say Die" / "Gotta Get Outta Here" WEA Records Limited Z10002 1988 Side 1 Bunny Walters
Side 2 Jacqui Fitzgerald & Susan Lynch[35]
Title Release info Year Tracks Notes
Just Out Of Reach Impact IR 402 A1. "Just Out Of Reach", A2. "Crying Time"
B1. "I Believe", B2. "Danny Boy
Title Release info Year Notes
Sings For Lovers And Rockers Impact IMPS 108 1972 [36]
The very best of Bunny Walters EMI 2002 CD[37]
Various artist compilation appearances
Title Release info Year Track(s) F Notes
Loxene Golden Disc Award (Top Twelve) Loxene Lox 1972 1972 "Take The Money And Run" LP
20 Golden Star Tracks Music for Leisure 345 "Take The Money And Run" LP
20 Golden Rata Award Hits Music for Leisure RATA 1 1973 "Helena" LP
20 Studio One Hits Music for Leisure ST1 1974 "Natural Man" LP
20 Solid Gold Hits Volume 9 Music for Leisure SGH9 1974 "The Nearest Thing To Heaven" LP
New Zealand Gold Volume Two His Master's Voice HITS 28 1977 "Brandy" LP
25 Years Of Kiwi Pop EMI 435040 2 1992 "Brandy" CD
Kiwi Rock Vol. 3 EMI 4710582 1994 "Take The Money And Run" CD Discogs says 1995, photo of CD says 1994[38]
Kiwi Classics, Vol. 2 EMI 4711112 1996 "Brandy" CD [39]
Waiata : Maori Showbands, Balladeers & Pop Stars His Master's Voice 50999 6802952 4
EMI – 50999 6802952
2011 "Brandy"
"Take The Money & Run"
CD [40]
Waiata 2 : Maori Showbands, Balladeers & Pop Stars EMI 2013 "The Nearest Thing To Heaven" CD [41]
Kiwiana Goes Pop Vol. 2 Frenzy Music FRENZY 106 2013 "Uncles Burgers Ad" CD

Film and television appearances[edit]

Title Episode Date Prod/Dir Notes
Pop Co Circa 1972/1974 David McPhail [42]
Koha "Māori Musicians" 22 June 1986 Ernie Leonard Other guests Richard Haeata and Mahinarangi Tocker
Koha 23 April 1989 Ernie Leonard Other guests Mahinaarangi Tocker
Koha 6 August 1989 Ernie Leonard Also features Moana Maniapoto-Jackson, Billy TK[43]
Sir Howard Morrison: Time of My Life 1995 Michael Hockley (1995 TV Special)
New Zealand: The Price of Fame 1999 Juliet Monaghan Documentary[44]
The Untold Stories Of New Zealand Music History Episode 9 17 May 2013 [45][46]
Title Role Director Year Notes
Skin Deep Himself Geoff Steven 1978
Never Say Die Geoff Murphy 1988 Song "Never Say Die"
Channelling Baby Himself Christine Parker 1999


  1. ^ a b "NZ music star Bunny Walters dies". Bay of Plenty Times. 13 December 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  2. ^ "KDV Mill". Katikati: Bay of Plenty Mural Town. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  3. ^ Steven Shaw, Bunny Walters – still singing his heart out, AudioCulture.co.nz, 30 June 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e Bunny Walters profile, muzic.net.nz; accessed 14 December 2016.
  5. ^ "Parenting and family, My father before me", womensweekly.co.nz, 31 August 2016.
  6. ^ Auckland Star, 8 April 1970.
  7. ^ New Zealand Herald, 3 September 1970.
  8. ^ Auckland Star Profile, Auckland Star, 10 September 1971.
  9. ^ ..... Bunny Walters' record of the song "Brandy" has been so successful that it is to be produced in sheet music form, New Zealand Herald, 4 May 1972.
  10. ^ New Zealand Herald, 30 June 1973 – (Article by John Berry
  11. ^ Discogs – Bunny Walters – Helena
  12. ^ Discogs – Leapy Lee – Helena
  13. ^ Discogs – Ben Thomas (10) – The Nearest Thing To Heaven
  14. ^ a b 45Cat – Bunny Walters – Discography
  15. ^ Stuff, 24 December 2016 – The kid from Katikati, singer Bunny Walters BESS MANSON
  16. ^ New Zealand Herald, 25 May 1974 – (John Berry article) Bunny Walters and Erana Clark will tour with the Supremes in June
  17. ^ Auckland Star, 31 August 1974 – Just the place for show case
  18. ^ Auckland Star, 24 October 1974 – Entertainer had cannabis in car
  19. ^ a b Manukau Courier, 20 December 2016 – Bunny Walters was 'world class' singer – WILLIE JACKSON
  20. ^ New Zealand CDS's – Walters ,Bunny: Very Best of Bunny Walters
  21. ^ Elsewhere Bunny Walters: To be Free with Labour (year unknown)
  22. ^ Audio Culture, 20 June 2014 – Bunny Walters Profile – Steve Shaw
  23. ^ TVNZ Transmission Opening ID Television (Full Length) – 1976 - 1992
  24. ^ Irene Gardiner (27 May 2015). "Video Vault - Goodnight Kiwi, Annie and Bunny's TV national anthem, and Kylie on Queer Nation". Stuff.co.nz.
  25. ^ Sunday Star, 9 June 1991 – .... Bunny Walters is back on stage in Porgy and Bess
  26. ^ Scoop Independent News The Untold Stories Of New Zealand Music History, scoop.co.nz; accessed 14 December 2016.
  27. ^ imdb Bunny Walters
  28. ^ Walters, Bunny: Very Best of Bunny Walters, newzealandcds.com; accessed 14 December 2016.
  29. ^ a b Stuff, 24 December 2016 – The kid from Katikati, singer Bunny Walters – BESS MANSON
  30. ^ Audio Culture, 30 June 2014 – Bunny Walters: a 2014 interview, Steven Shaw
  31. ^ 'Chur bro': Iconic Māori singer Bunny Walters dies aged 63, nz.news.yahoo.com; accessed 23 January 2017.
  32. ^ "Tribute concert for New Zealand hit maker", stuff.co.nz; accessed 23 January 2016.
  33. ^ Farewell for Kiwi music legend Bunny Walters – Elton Rikihana Smallman, stuff.co.nz; accessed 23 January 2017.
  34. ^ Stuff, 18 January 2017 – Tribute concert for New Zealand hit maker LUKE KIRKEBY
  35. ^ Discogs – Bunny Walters Discography, Singles & EPs
  36. ^ Discogs – Bunny Walters – Sings For Lovers And Rockers
  37. ^ WorldCat – The very best of Bunny Walters (sound recording)
  38. ^ Discogs – Bunny Walters Discography – Compilations
  39. ^ All Music Various Artists Kiwi Classics, Vol. 2
  40. ^ Discogs – Bunny Walters Discography, Appearances
  41. ^ WorldCat – Waiata. 2 : Māori showbands, balladeers & pop stars.
  42. ^ NZ On Screen – Pop Co, Television, 1972–1974
  43. ^ The New Zealand Archive of Film, Television and Sound Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua Me Ngā Taonga Kōrero – Bunny Walters Koha
  44. ^ Imdb – Bunny Walters (1953–2016)
  45. ^ Scoop, 12 March 2013, – The Untold Stories Of New Zealand Music History, Tuesday, 12 March 2013, 3:20 pm, Press Release: Te Reo Maori Television Trust
  46. ^ Māori Television – Unsung Heroes of Māori Music, Series 3 Episode 9

External links[edit]